Are the bots taking over? No, but we’re going to put them to good work

By Dr Indra Joshi and Nikki Patel, 27 July 2018

Photos of the blog authors Dr Indra Joshi and Nikki Patel

Last Monday, as part of NHS70 Digital Week we launched ourselves into the virtual reality of AltspaceVR for a punchy debate entitled Are the bots taking over? How AI will affect the future of healthcare. And what an amazing experience it was.

After creating our own avatars, we explored our cyber conference space; networking beside a virtual fire and taking in views from the high-rise balcony before Rob Parker, Associate CIO, kicked off the discussion.

With fellow panellist Vishal Nangalia from the Royal Free Hospital, we discussed a whole host of topics ranging from the potential of intelligent algorithms in health, to emerging work on a code of conduct for digital health innovations and intelligent algorithms.

Whilst not a new concept, we are working in a collaborative way across government departments, in partnership with industry and academia, to create principles and guidelines that ensure we develop trusted and safe innovations in an open and transparent way.

The main applications of AI in healthcare were deliberated, alongside its role in data analytics, where it can enable the gaining of meaningful insight into how we can improve healthcare for people. With the NHS working towards a more personalised experience for patients, data-driven approaches are key to digital transformation.

During the course of the debate we were joined by more than 120 avatars in cyber space and over 100 followers on a live stream on YouTube, generating over 860,000 impressions on Twitter. And the social media conversations are still ongoing.

Creating this immersive experience was a fantastic way to engage an audience across the globe and a truly unique experience for all those who took part. We already seeing the benefits of virtual reality in healthcare from symptom control, to treatment of health problems and this event has demonstrated its further application as a great medium for truly international debates on important issues.

This is no longer an emerging technology; virtual reality has made its mark and we would be wise to find it a home.

If you missed the event,  watch our live stream recording, filmed by our avatar cameraman and don't forget to join the conversation on twitter #AreTheBotsTakingOver.